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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 20, 201805:14 AM EST

Dogtopia near San Marco seeking $78,000 grant

Retail Enhancement Grant funds would be applied to plumbing, electrical and exterior improvements.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

The owners of a dog day care and grooming store proposed for the Downtown Southbank are asking the Downtown Invaestment Authority for a Retail Enhancement Grant. 

Ali and Addie Kasraeian are seeking to open the city’s second Dogtopia at 1075 Hendricks Ave.

The national chain specializes in dog day care, boarding and pet spa services. The first is planned by another franchise owner along Philips Highway.

Before the Kasraeians attempt to convert the 3,960-square-foot vacant building north of San Marco, they’re asking the DIA Retail Enhancement Program Committee for a $78,000 grant to help offset the more than $764,000 in private capital they intend to invest. 

The owner also plans to put $136,000 into the project.

Committee members Oliver Barakat, Brenna Durden and Jack Meeks will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday in a third-floor conference room at City Hall at 117 W. Duval St. 

The DIA board would need to approve the committee’s decision.

According to the project description in a DIA staff report, the Retail Enhancement Grant will be applied toward plumbing, electrical, mechanical and exterior improvements. 

Because the grant is a forgivable loan, it is bound by conditions defined by the DIA. 

For the loan to be forgiven, the applicants must obtain the appropriate permits and complete all of the work within six months of the final program document approval and executed agreements with the DIA.

A six-month extension for the permits and work is built into the agreement.

The money must be secured by a personal guarantee of the applicant in the event of a default. 

The DIA committee can approve the grant based on a 45-point scale that scores the applicant’s business plan, investment in the Downtown area or a historic property, and the expansion of the state and local tax base. 

According to the DIA staff report, Dogtopia scored 30 out of 45 points.

Through AKA Jacksonville LLC, the couple signed a 10-year lease July 21 with property owner Happy Family LLC. 

Happy Family LLC has agreed to build a circular driveway for drop-off and pickup and create parking along the east side of the building. 

The building will need interior and exterior work to meet the standards of the Phoenix-based chain. 

The Downtown Development Review Board signed off on the building’s final design Feb. 15, and the DIA awarded AKA Jacksonville the right to develop the property Feb. 21. 

In February, contractor Emerald C’s Development Inc. applied for a $463,829 permit for renovations. 

According to a DIA staff report, Dogtopia will have 11 full-time employees. 

Dogtopia, which started offering franchise opportunities in 2005, says on its website it offers webcam viewing for pet owners, professionally designed spas, playrooms and enclosed boarding suites and other amenities.

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